The workplace can be a dangerous place, and accidents are common. There were nearly 6 million non-fatal work injuries and illnesses recorded by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016. These statistics also reveal that construction workers have higher rates of on-the-job injuries than most other professions. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue a career as a carpenter or pipe fitter, of course. But it does mean that anyone who works in construction needs to understand their rights if they suffer an accident at work.
If you are injured while working on a construction site, you should know whether your employer provides workers’ compensation coverage and whether your state has any laws regarding on-the-job safety that might help you with your claim for damages. Here is some information about work accident laws that could come in handy someday.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that all employers in every state are required to purchase for their employees. This coverage pays medical expenses and a portion of lost wages for anyone who suffers an on-the-job injury while working for that company.
The amount of coverage and the types of injuries that it covers can vary by state. However, the federal government requires employers to provide workers’ compensation insurance. If your employer does not provide workers’ compensation coverage, then you are not protected if you are injured while working.
Many people who are eligible for workers’ compensation choose to file a claim anyway, both to receive immediate payment for medical bills and to be assured that they will receive payment for future expenses.
How is Accident Severity Determined?
If you are injured at work and file a claim for workers’ compensation coverage, your employer will assign your injury a severity rating. This rating determines the amount you will receive for lost wages and medical care. The systems used to assign severity ratings in every state are based on the American Medical Association’s Standard Industrial Classification Manual.
If a medical professional makes an error in assigning your injury severity, you may be eligible for a re-assessment. You can also challenge an error if your employer doesn’t follow the proper procedures for assigning a rating. Your employer is required to follow specific procedures for assigning an injury severity rating. If your employer does not follow these procedures, you may be able to challenge the rating.
Does Your Employer Provide Workplace Safety Equipment?
This might seem like a silly question, but you’d be surprised how often it comes up. People who have been injured at work while using dangerous equipment or tools have the right to request that their employer provide safer equipment.
For example, construction workers who may be injured while using power saws have the right to request that their employer provide safer saws with a guard in place. Employers are required to provide this safer equipment if the injury could have been prevented by using this type of equipment. Your employer does not have to provide new equipment if you were at fault for the accident.
In some cases, you may be required to pay for the equipment yourself if it would cost more than a certain amount. But in general, your employer is obligated to provide safer equipment if you request it after an accident.
Can You Be Fired After a Workplace Accident?
Your employer cannot fire you because you were injured at work unless your injury was caused by a serious violation of workplace rules. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits your employer from firing you because of the accident or your disability.
Your employer may be able to fire you because of the way you acted as a result of the accident. For example, your employer may be able to fire you if your actions after the accident disrupt the workplace or if you are unable to perform the necessary duties. If you have been injured on the job and think you might be fired, talk to a lawyer right away. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation or other assistance that could help you keep your job.
Other Rights After a Workplace Accident
Medical coverage: You have the right to have your medical bills paid by your employer even if you were hurt on the job. If you miss work because of your injury, you also have the right to receive paid time off from your employer.
Assistance finding a new job: If your injury prevents you from returning to your previous job, you have the right to be given assistance finding a new job. Your employer must make a sincere effort to help you find appropriate work, whether that means helping you find a new job or retraining you for a different position.
Assistance applying for disability benefits: If your injury is serious enough to prevent you from working, you may be eligible for disability benefits. Your employer has the right to help you apply for these benefits and to provide you with any necessary documentation.
Other state or federal benefits: You have the right to apply for any other benefits you may be entitled to, including state-funded long-term disability benefits or federal Supplemental Security Income benefits.
No discrimination: Your employer cannot discriminate against you because of your accident. This includes discrimination because you are receiving workers’ compensation.
No discrimination against a family member: If someone in your family is injured on the job, you have the right to be free from discrimination related to that injury. In other words, your employer cannot discriminate against a family member who is receiving workers’ compensation.
Injuries are common on construction sites. However, your employer is required to provide you with workers’ compensation coverage if you are injured on the job. This coverage pays for certain medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured while working.
If you are injured at work, your employer will follow a specific process for assigning a severity rating. You have certain rights if you are injured at work, including the right to be given medical coverage, disability benefits, and paid time off.